REQUIEM FOR THE FALLEN
St. Helen’s Church, Howard Beach, NY
After twenty years of war, Afghanistan’s capital was captured by the Taliban in August of 2021, the result of a military offensive which led to the overthrow of the Afghanistan Government, under the failed leadership of disgraced President Ashraf Ghani, who abandoned his people and fled the nation.
Thousands of Afghan families were left to die at the hands of the Taliban, who swore vengeance against those who supported U.S. Forces during the war. Despite this, the U.S. Government provided no exit strategy for our allies to escape the brutality of the Taliban.
A candlelight vigil honoring the 13 U.S. military service members killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, took place at St. Helens Church in Howard Beach, NY. A procession of 13 parishioners holding candles walked up the center aisle one-by-one, each placing a candle on a table set up in front of the altar. The names of each service member were announced:
Lance Corporal David Lee Espinosa, Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoul, Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, Corporal Humberto Sanchez, Corporal Hunter Lopez, Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, Lance Corporal Dylan Merola, Sgt. Johnny Rosario Pichardo, Corporal Daegan Page, Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, Corporal Rylee McCollum, and Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz.
“The military is a true melting pot composed of people from all walks of life. As a man of faith, this is a true testament to God’s power. It is simply our duty to love one another and protect our fellow man.”
—William Vallely, Iraq War Veteran
The church bell chimed once for each of the fallen. Father Colamaria then led parishioners across the street to observe Vallely raise the flag, back to full staff. Parishioners were given yellow ribbons by The Howard Beach Moms, the group responsible for organizing the meaningful candlelit vigil, in memory of the fallen.